Friday, November 25, 2005

Regional Pride and Rent the Movie

This is why I refuse to see the movie-

In an act of poetic license, the makers of the movie "Rent" shot the facade of the Horseshoe, but when the action moves inside, it's a fictional version of the Life Café, which, for the record, looks a lot like the real Life Café, if patrons of the real Life Café periodically broke into elaborate song-and-dance routines.

That detail is just one of the small, reality-twisting inaccuracies in "Rent" that will no doubt drive certain East Villagers crazy.

They are little things, like the presence of a subway stop on Tompkins Square Park. (Would that there were.) Or the fact that the Mars Bar, the down-and-dirty Second Avenue watering hole, is midblock in the movie. (It's actually on a corner.) Or that the side street on which the Renters live in the movie doesn't actually exist. (A blurry street sign suggests that it is somewhere off East 11th Street at Avenue A, but it looks nothing like that block. Or any other block, for that matter.)

There are homeless people, yes, and riots and a tent city - all of which were in the old East Village - but, predictably enough, they are the best-looking riots, homeless people and tent cities you have ever seen. None of which is criminal - "West Side Story" doesn't look exactly like 1950's Hell's Kitchen, after all - and all of which can probably be traced back to the fact that "Rent," a New York story if there ever was one, was largely shot in San Francisco. (The director, Chris Columbus, lives in that foggy burg.) There are, to be sure, a few brief East Village exteriors, and a scene or two set around Tompkins Square, but anyone looking for a glimpse of the old East Village (or even the new East Village) will be sorely disappointed.

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